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Years That Changed History: 1215

Gain a truly global understanding of our world in the making-and discover the common themes that connect us across time and space through one single year.
Years That Changed History: 1215 is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 86.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Reconciling history and theology I really like professor Armstrong in general. She seems to strive to make the courses she presents interesting and accessible to the average person. I also like for this 1215 course that I could she that she wanted to grow into new areas of her own understanding not just educate. I am a professor in engineering, and I frequently also want to teach into new things to so that I can have “an excuse” to learn those new things. (As if anyone should ever need to excuse wanting to learn something new.) My struggle with Dr. Armstrong is common to this course and her course on the Black Death as well. Whenever someone talks about a religious faith that still has adherents today, it is tricky. It is tricky if you are an adherent of that faith because you may not be as critical of things those in your faith did in the past. It is tricky if you are not an adherent because you might simplify or mischaracterize what people in that faith believe. Even those who understand the theology of another faith very well will always have some divide between how they perceive the faith as a non-believer compared with those who believe. In setting up my comment in this way, I do struggle to understand how medieval scholars deal with events like the crusades. Dr. Armstrong is, I think, just one of scholar of many that vexes me on this point. In particular, what I struggle to deal with is how foolish the crusades are in light of the Christian gospel. Be you Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, or something else it seems so clear that what Pope Urban II and others in the Middle Ages did by suggesting that peoples’ sins could be forgiven by going on a crusade makes no sense Biblically. There is nothing in the Bible that suggests in any way that a holy war is commanded, approved, or even allowed by God. The entire New Testament and the nature of Jesus’ passion are so focused on salvation by grace and substitutionary atonement. Even a basic reading of the New Testament should easily lead one to see that so many of the actions that supposedly people did to “get to Heaven” or “remove time in Purgatory” have not justification in the Bible. (The book of Galatians focuses almost entirely on this single issue for example.) General literacy and Biblical literacy have increased so much since the Middle Ages that anyone who were to suggest that you “must do ___ action” to be “good enough” to get into Heaven would quickly be seen as not a Christian at all. They would be creating some alternate faith based on Christianity but quickly departing from its key teaching, the gospel of Jesus Christ. I get that historically, many nominal Christians of the Middle Ages may honestly have believed that they needed to go on Crusade to have their sins forgiven. But they were objectively deceived in terms of what the Bible actually teaches, intentionally or unintentionally. I have therefore two particular points of criticism that I think should be addressed when scholars speak about Christian practices like the Crusades in the Middle Ages. I would certainly like to know as well if there are Medieval scholars like Dr. Armstrong who address these in their practice: (1) Diversity of Christian beliefs - So often we seem to hear that “the gospel was lost” and that Medieval Christians all subscribed to the persecution of Jews, the Crusades, the veneration of relics, and similar ideas. Were there really no Christians before John Hus and Martin Luther who understand that these salvation by human effort ideas are so Biblically unsupported so as to be laughable today? Were there no counter-viewpoints? If there really aren’t any, then scholars should say this. I tend to think that scribes and scholars who could read the Bible in the Middle Age would know better. If there were counter-viewpoints, points that are consistent with Biblical Christianity, why are they not discussed? For example, did anyone ever point out to Pope Urban II and other crusader advocates how going to the Holy Land can have no relationship at all to saving faith? (2) Christians today - I am concerned that when people learn about Christianity from Medieval history, people who don’t know any practicing Christians, that they will think we Christians might look at military Christendom fondly or that we might be sympathetic to attitudes of salvation by works, as if Jesus’ death and resurrection are mostly useless or simply a story meant simply to “inspire Christians for righteousness” (a conclusion hard to escape if you believe in salvation by works). Since Christianity has a modern counterpart today, a faith expression that is very different from and in frequent opposition to many Medieval Christian beliefs and practices, I wish that scholars like Dr. Armstrong would note this in some way. I know she may not get into the Reformation and its aftermath, but it is important that people realize that Medieval Christianity was changed in some big ways and corrected according to an increase in Biblical literacy and a desire to be faithful to the Bible. Martin Luther was far more driven by his love for the Bible than he was by an desire to simply cause a ruckus. I think that scholars like Dr. Armstrong should wrestle with how much Christianity has been reformed since the time periods that they cover in their courses and somehow present history within the context of greater fidelity to the Bible and thus to Jesus’ teachings. If I didn’t think that Dr. Armstrong was open to honest, heartfelt criticism, I wouldn’t say these things. I think it is great that people seem to enjoy her courses so much. I think the things that I am bring up her will help her course content to improve.
Date published: 2022-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Almost excellent, better than good Professor is my go-to contact for all things Arthurian, and she knows medieval literature very well. But 1215 is linked in my mind with the Magna Carta, and I wish she had spent more time on that. I was unaware than Genghis Khan's conquest of Beijing was in the same year. I was impressed with Prof. Armstrong's handling of the Mongol proper nouns, with the exception of Genghis. She insists on pronouncing the first "G" as a French soft sound, which conflicts with the Google pronunciation of the name with a hard "G", as in "gallant". This (almost) ruined her Mongol presentation as the soft "g" gritted across my teeth. All in all, she is a good presenter and I am grateful for her filling a gap in my knowledge about Mongol history.
Date published: 2022-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not my favorite among her very many excellent cour The presenter is a wonderful lecturer and I've thoroughly enjoyed several of her past courses, particularly those within her obvious field expertise. She always brings a welcome sense of both humor and irony to subjects. Parts of this course were very interesting, for example, the Americas (which might have deserved 2 lectures given the extensive South American civilizations at that time). Ghengis Khan (my old spelling) is, of course fascinating, but in some parts, the lecturer kind of got lost in the weeds of the early nomadic culture. We needed the background of the culture to understand the sea change that he brought but that cultural background then tended to overshadow the detail of the events that took place while he ruled.
Date published: 2022-06-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing Shallow & distorted. Not a fair description of European world.
Date published: 2022-05-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Material done well, software still a struggle Great Courses has gradually improved this clunky software interface, the last major problem is that when you touch the screen to pause, the software will OFTEN move your place in the video to that spot, i.e., if I'm at 1:30 minutes and touch the middle of the screen, I might find myself at 15:34 minutes. Unless you happen to remember where you were, it's a struggle to find your way back. Just clunky. Dangerous on the road. Now you literally have to pull over.
Date published: 2022-05-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I’m very disappointed with this course. The other courses taught by Dorsey Armstrong have been out standing because she focused on her areas of expertise. I this course she was out of her depth because she moved into the area of Christianity. I have advanced degrees in religion and theology. I was saddened by her butchering of the Christian faith. I couldn’t even watch the complete course.
Date published: 2022-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Always a pleasure to listen to Professor Armstrong I have listened to or watched many Great Courses, 45 or so, and have enjoyed almost all the professors, which says a lot for The Teaching Company in my opinion. But professor Dorsey Armstrong is tops; she could lecture on cardboard production and make it fascinating. I'll bet she would be a great guest at a dinner party. Having said that, this series of lectures is an interesting way of looking at a certain historical period, and very worthwhile. Some might think that the title is slightly misleading, since quite a bit of what is dealt with didn't specifically happen in 1215, although she is correct I think in anchoring the history of the period in that year.
Date published: 2022-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite courses Dorsey Armstrong is a great teacher. She makes history come alive, puts in context, adds fascinating details. I plan to check out her other courses soon!
Date published: 2021-11-20
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Overview

Years That Changed History: 1215 is a unique course, offering you the chance to delve into one of the most interesting periods in world history. Over 24 wide-ranging lectures, Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University gives you the Big History of this singular year, introducing you to the people, events, and consequences of the world in 1215.

About

Dorsey Armstrong

Every turning point discussed in these lectures shifted the flow of the river of history, bringing us ever closer to the modern world.

INSTITUTION

Purdue University

Dorsey Armstrong is a Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Purdue University, where she is also the head of the Department of English. She received her PhD in Medieval Literature from Duke University. She is the executive editor of the academic journal Arthuriana, which publishes cutting-edge research on the legend of King Arthur, from its medieval origins to its modern enactments. She is a recipient of the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, Purdue’s top undergraduate teaching honor. Her other Great Courses include The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague and The Medieval World.

By This Professor

King Arthur: History and Legend
854
The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague
854
Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
854
Years That Changed History: 1215
854
Great Minds of the Medieval World
854
The Black Death: New Lessons from Recent Research
854
Years That Changed History: 1215

Trailer

The World before 1215

01: The World before 1215

Begin your survey of this amazing year with some context. Europe in the 13th century was experiencing a period of climate warming, which led to a population boom as well as the expansion of urban centers and the growth of cities. Meanwhile, in Asia, the Mongols were finding their ages-old way of life threatened by these same changes.

34 min
The Magna Carta: Patching Up a Squabble

02: The Magna Carta: Patching Up a Squabble

History buffs likely know that the Magna Carta was drafted in 1215, and that it helped establish English law as we know it. But what was actually in this document? And why was it created in the first place? Here, you’ll discover the surprisingly narrowly-focused origins of a short-lived document—what seemed at the time like a minor footnote in history.

31 min
What’s Really in the Magna Carta?

03: What’s Really in the Magna Carta?

Continue your study of the Magna Carta by investigating some of its most interesting clauses. As you learned in the previous lecture, the document was meant to appease a group of nobles, and the negotiated settlement is a delightful mix of grand pronouncements and specific requests—including that widows shall not be compelled to remarry.

30 min
The Magna Carta’s Legacy

04: The Magna Carta’s Legacy

Although the Magna Carta is revered today as a founding document of British law and a democratic sensibility, it’s stunning to reflect on how easily it could have been forgotten. Shortly after it was officially accepted by both king and nobles, the pope annulled the document; yet that isn’t the end of the story. Here, trace the Magna Carta’s story across the ages.

28 min
What Inspired the Fourth Lateran Council?

05: What Inspired the Fourth Lateran Council?

If you went back in time and asked anyone in 1215 what the most important event of the year was, most people in Europe would cite the Fourth Lateran Council. In this lecture, Professor Armstrong surveys the history of Christianity and the events leading up to this pivotal ecclesiastical event.

31 min
Canons for Christian Practice and Belief

06: Canons for Christian Practice and Belief

Delve into the canons that were decreed at the Fourth Lateran Council. Find out what Church leaders were trying to accomplish, or what crises they were attempting to address. From heresies to marriage to the nature of the priesthood, the Fourth Lateran Council took on issues that affected nearly everyone in Europe.

30 min
The Canons of Persecution

07: The Canons of Persecution

Continue your study of the Fourth Lateran Council with this examination of the “canons of persecution.” Whereas the canons you studied in Lecture 6 primarily affected Christians, the canons in this lecture were directed specifically at non-Christians—particularly Muslims and Jews. After exploring these persecution canons, consider the background for the Crusades.

28 min
Civilizations in the Americas in 1215

08: Civilizations in the Americas in 1215

Shift your attention from Europe to the Americas, where a number of civilizations were thriving in 1215. Although no single lecture could do justice to all of these civilizations, Professor Armstrong spotlights the Pueblo people, the Incas, and the Maya, providing a solid foundation for what was happening on the American continents at the time.

29 min
Civilizations of Sub-Saharan Africa in 1215

09: Civilizations of Sub-Saharan Africa in 1215

Africa in 1215 was home to a number of fascinating civilizations, including the Mali Empire, the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, and the Ethiopian Empire. Travel to Sub-Saharan Africa to review the history leading up to these great civilizations, meet some of the major figures, and explore some of their great feats, from mining to dry-stone engineering.

30 min
The Crusading Impulse

10: The Crusading Impulse

A few lectures ago, you studied the “persecution canons” of the Fourth Lateran Council and saw the tense relationship between the Church and non-Christians. Here, Professor Armstrong unpacks the background to the Crusades, beginning with Pope Urban II’s 1095 call for Christians to take the Holy Land back from the Muslims.

32 min
The Fourth Crusade and the Crusader States

11: The Fourth Crusade and the Crusader States

In the century after Pope Urban II, a “crusading impulse” had taken over medieval western Europe. In this lecture, you will examine the Fourth Crusade, which began in 1198 and culminated with the sack of Constantinople in 1204. Then turn to the Children’s Crusade that followed.

30 min
The Fourth Lateran Council and the Jews

12: The Fourth Lateran Council and the Jews

The Fourth Lateran Council marked a turning point for Jewish communities in medieval Europe. In this first of two lectures on the Jewish experience around 1215, Professor Armstrong provides an overview of anti-Semitism in medieval European society. Reflect on the uneasy relationship between Jews and Christians.

29 min
The Jews in 1215 and Beyond

13: The Jews in 1215 and Beyond

Continue your study of the Jewish experience in medieval Europe. Examine the aftermath of 1215 and the Fourth Lateran Council’s insistence on Christian dominance. In the 13th century, institutional persecution began trickling down to the masses, leading to blood libel accusations, among other abominations.

30 min
Francis of Assisi and the Mendicant Orders

14: Francis of Assisi and the Mendicant Orders

As you may recall, the Fourth Lateran Council attempted to curb the formation of new monastic orders, yet the Church soon after granted an exception for the Franciscans and the Dominicans. Dive into the background of these orders, meet St. Francis of Assisi, and see how his life inspired the creation of a new religious order.

34 min
The Crusade against the Cathars

15: The Crusade against the Cathars

Catharism is a version of Christianity even more revolutionary than the mendicant orders you studied in the last lecture. In fact, Catharism was so radical that some people argued its belief system was not Christianity at all. See why, in the early 13th century, the pope turned his attention away from the Crusades abroad to root out Catharism at home.

33 min
Mongol Culture before Genghis Khan

16: Mongol Culture before Genghis Khan

Too often, western history books portray the Mongols as bloodthirsty murderers and destroyers hellbent on destroying civilization, but the true story of Mongol society is much different. As Marco Polo relayed after a visit to Kublai Khan, the Mongols did much to stabilize the societies they conquered. Explore the dual identity of the Mongols.

31 min
The Mongols and the Rise of Genghis Khan

17: The Mongols and the Rise of Genghis Khan

The rise of Genghis Khan is an amazing, unbelievable story. How did a low-ranking man from the Mongolian steppes rise up to be one of the greatest military leaders the world has ever seen? In this lecture, Professor Armstrong surveys the dazzling rise of Genghis Khan, outlines his military strategy, and surveys his conquests across Asia.

32 min
The Battle of Beijing

18: The Battle of Beijing

By the early 13th century, Genghis Khan had defeated all of his immediate rivals and brought a number of regional tribes under his banner, including the Huns, Turks, and Tatars. His crowning achievement was his success at the Battle of Beijing, when he consolidated his control of China. As you’ll discover, the battle was decidedly one-sided from the start.

30 min
What Happened to the Mongols after 1215?

19: What Happened to the Mongols after 1215?

When Genghis Khan died, his greatest legacies were his tradition of warfare as well as the way he unified so many disparate groups of people. In this final lecture on the Mongols, follow the story of his sons and grandsons, and witness the collapse of the largest, contiguous political entity ever to exist.

33 min
The Status of Women in 1215

20: The Status of Women in 1215

To tackle the subject of what the world was like in general for women in 1215, Professor Armstrong returns to medieval Europe, which was home to many powerful and well-educated women. Explore the lives of three exemplary women of the time: Hildegard of Bingen, Héloïse, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

33 min
Literary Trends in the Early 13th Century

21: Literary Trends in the Early 13th Century

Religious writing was flourishing in 1215, and religious tracts and guides provide a crucial window into 13th-century spirituality and behavior. Beyond religion, however, the Norse and Icelandic sagas offer great insight into the myths, events, and stories of a pagan, pre-Christian past, while the Arthurian legend grew in popularity throughout the medieval world. Review this amazing—and sometimes amazingly weird—literature.

34 min
The Islamic World in 1215

22: The Islamic World in 1215

In the 13th century, the Islamic world was experiencing a golden age of art, science, education, and more. From Baghdad’s House of Wisdom to figures such as Avicenna, Averroës, Saladin, and more, take a tour of this grand world. Learn about the foundations of modern medicine and mathematics.

32 min
Japan and Samurai Culture

23: Japan and Samurai Culture

Mongol culture affected huge swaths of the world, including Japan. After reflecting on the feudal structure of Japan in the 13th century, Professor Armstrong traces the rise of the shoguns, which is rooted in the 1185 conflict between the Taira and Minamoto clans. Examine the history of shoguns, the samurai, and more.

31 min
The World after 1215

24: The World after 1215

Much of this course has been about looking back to a watershed year in world history. In this final lecture, Professor Armstrong looks forward to consider how the events from this course shaped the centuries that followed. With a shifting climate, the decline of population, and the catastrophic Black Death in the 14th century, we can look back and see that the year 1215 is truly an anomalous time.

38 min